We’ve all heard of anorexia and bulimia, but what is Binge Eating Disorder?  For starters it is the most common eating disorder in the US.

Typically beginning in late adolescence or early adulthood, binge eating disorder is characterized by binge eating in order to cope with stress or irritating stimuli. People who suffer from the disorder often feel like they’re unable to quit eating, and often feel deep shame and self-loathing due to their overeating habits.It’s unlike bulimia in that there is no attempt to negate the overeating by inducing vomiting, fasting, or engaging in extreme amounts of exercise. Oftentimes, binge eating will result in obesity, which results in more self-loathing, creating a vicious and endless cycle of spurred on by shame and regret.

Symptoms
Because people with Binge Eating Disorder often try to hide their disorder, it may be difficult for family and friends to see that they have a disorder in the first place. Some signs of a friend or family member having the disorder could be the existence of hidden junk food stashes, and empty food wrappers.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you could have Binge Eating Disorder:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Not being able to control your eating
  • Eating large amounts of food in a short time
  • Eating when you’re full
  • Hiding food to eat at a later time
  • Only binge eating when you’re alone
  • Eating at all times of the day with no scheduled meals

Emotional Symptoms

  • Needing to eat to relieve stress
  • Being ashamed of how much you eat
  • Dissociating while eating
  • Feeling unsatisfied regardless of how much you eat
  • Feeling guilty and depressed after a binge eating episode
  • A desperate need to control your weight and eating habits

Causes
A binge eating disorder usually forms as a result of several different factors including your genetics, environment, and emotional state.

Environmental factors

  • The social pressure to be thin adds to a person’s shame, resulting in an eating binge that takes place to cope with anxiety and stress
  • Parents who reward or appease their children with food
  • Sexual abuse victims often resort to binge eating as a coping mechanism
  • Critical comments about body weight and size

Psychological factors

  • People who suffer or use to suffer from depression are often binge eaters
  • Loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • People who suffer from impulse control issues and who have trouble expressing their feelings are often binge eaters

Biological factors

  • A flawed hypothalamus might send incorrect messages to the brain about fullness and hunger
  • Some people suffer from a genetic mutation that causes food addiction
  • Low serotonin levels

Effects
People with a binge eating disorder are more susceptible to a bevy of physical, psychological, and emotional problems. These include stress, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and weight gain.

Recovery
Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder is usually treated with a combination of counseling, nutritional counseling, intensive outpatient programs, residential treatment and support group participation.  Since every patient is different, it is important to understand that one size does not fit all and your treatment plan should be customized to your unique situation.

Some of the important principles that a Binge Eater will need to apply in order to achieve recovery are:

Being more disciplined in your eating habits

  • Listen to what your body is telling you, not your mind
  • Only eat at scheduled times
  • Eat mindfully. Eat to enjoy eating, and not to just satisfy an emotional need

Separating your feelings from your eating habits

  • Consciously identify the emotion you’re feeling
  • Accept what you’re feeling without judging yourself
  • Separate yourself from your feelings. They do not define you!

If you think you may have binge eating disorder, the best action is to visit a qualified health professional.  Exult Healthcare offers free binge eating disorder assessments at our McKinney and Sherman locations.  Click here to contact us!

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